Chocolate lovers have fewer strokes, study finds

Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:39pm EDT
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By Frederik Joelving

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A sweet tooth isn't necessarily bad for your health-- at least not when it comes to chocolate, hints a new study.

Researchers studying more than 33,000 Swedish women found that the more chocolate women said they ate, the lower their risk of stroke.

The results add to a growing body of evidence linking cocoa consumption to heart health, but they aren't a free pass to gorge on chocolate.

"Given the observational design of the study, findings from this study cannot prove that it's chocolate that lowers the risk of stroke," Susanna Larsson from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm told Reuters Health in an email.

While she believes chocolate has health benefits, she also warned that eating too much of it could be counterproductive.

"Chocolate should be consumed in moderation as it is high in calories, fat, and sugar," she said. "As dark chocolate contains more cocoa and less sugar than milk chocolate, consumption of dark chocolate would be more beneficial."

Larsson and her colleagues, whose findings appear in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, tapped into data from a mammography study that included self-reports of how much chocolate women ate in 1997. The women ranged in age from 49 to 83 years.

Over the next decade, there were 1,549 strokes, and the more chocolate women ate, the lower their risk.   Continued...

<p>Chocolates made by Belgian Christine Scholtes Covic are displayed in her Lika Chocolate workshop in the village of Rakovica, in the Croatian region of Lika, some 150 kilometres (93 miles) south of Zagreb January 21, 2011. REUTERS/Nikola Solic</p>